When it was proposed that we (SUVCW) adopt a Marching Song at the National Encampment in Los Angeles, California, 2012, National Historian PDC Bob Wolz stated we already had a march.
“The Sons of Veterans March”
"The Sons of Veterans March" was published in March 1909,composed
by Karl Lawrence King.
King was born in Ohio, February 21, 1891. He was a member of The Grand Army Band of Canton as a teenager. He may have belonged to the Sons, as his maternal grandfather had served in the Union Army. He was self-taught and his first professional musical position was baritone horn with the Thayer Military Band in Canton, Ohio. The “Thayer Military Band March”, also published March 1909, is his first published work. “The Sons of Veterans March” was written when he was 18 and is among his first of over 200 marches. He shares the title of “March King” with John Philip Sousa. In 1913 he wrote “Barnum and Bailey's Favorite,” which became a popular march. Very quickly, the song was adopted as the theme song of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. King was named director of the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus Band at age 23 and of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show shortly after.
During World War I, Karl King wanted to join John Philip Sousa at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station but he couldn’t achieve it as there were no openings left. So, Sousa suggested that Karl King could join the army as bandmaster at Camp Grant but, he couldn’t serve as the War ended on the day he was supposed to join. In 1919, Karl King returned to Canton where he directed the Grand Army Band. He also ventured into music publishing business by establishing his company ‘K.L. King Music House’. The company published its first work, “Broadway One-Step”. In 1920, he saw an ad in a national musician’s publication for a conductor of the Fort Dodge Municipal Band in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and was accepted for the job. Giving up the traveling circus life, he settled in Fort Dodge, and conducted the municipal band there for the next 51 years. King worked passionately for the betterment of the band and later it became famous as King’s Band. Karl King played an important role in the enactment of the Iowa Band Law in 1921, which allowed cities to impose a local tax for maintenance of a band. When the law was passed he felt so ecstatic that he celebrated the news with his famous march named “Iowa Band Law”. Through his leadership the band became a popular fixture at state and regional fairs, rodeos, and expositions, as well as performing their weekly local concerts. He and his son, Karl Jr., established a successful music publishing business in Fort Dodge as well. He wrote and published more than 200 marches in his lifetime, earning him the title of America’s March King. He also composed waltzes, overtures, intermezzos, serenades, dirges, rags, and gallops, totaling nearly another 100 selections. In 1960, Karl King directed the largest mass band ever with 188 high school bands that presented about 13,000 musicians and was staged at a nationally televised University of Michigan football game.
Karl Lawrence King died in Ft. Dodge, Iowa on March 31, 1971, and is buried in North Lawn Cemetery in Ft. Dodge.